Five 1960s bands that broke up far too soon

The world would be better if these bands had not ended too soon.
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THE BEAU BRUMMELS – 1965-1968 (5 albums)

The common take on the Beau Brummels is that they wedded the California folk of the Byrds with the Beatles. That’s true to an extent, but it sells the Bay Area rockers short. They had two elite weapons that made them far more than derivative imitators. Guitarist Ron Elliott was a highly gifted songwriter, and frontman Sal Valentino had one of the very best voices in ‘60s pop.

You hear both immediately on their very first album track, “Laugh Laugh.” Then, two songs later, they top it with the haunting “Just a Little.” They even do a spry little version of the country classic “Oh Lonesome Me.” They followed up the debut with a second strong album, basically sticking to the same formula. They got so big so fast that they were booked at the Bedrock-a-Gogo on The Flintstones to sing “Laugh Laugh.” They were cleverly renamed The Beau Brummelstones.  

But success ended up hurting them. After the second album, they left their small hometown label, Autumn, for Warner Brothers and the big time. They rushed out an album of covers which was met mostly with disdain. Combined with Elliott’s failing health, which kept him from full participation, the Brummels were never able to build on their early success.

The failure of Beau Brummels ’66 caused a bit of a shake-up in the band, and the resulting albums, Triangle and Bradley’s Barn indicated that there was more interesting music to come. Triangle is a decent art rock project that predicts some of Jethro Tull’s more pastoral work in the ‘70s.

But Bradley’s Barn is a fabulous album – full of swampy, blues rock like “Turn Around” and “Deep Water” that would feel right at home on any modern country rockers setlist. Elliott and Valentino were both expanding their voices – sharing songwriting and singing – and coming up with some excellent material. But it wasn’t the early stuff, which is what Warners thought they were getting. The original Brummels reunited for one final hurrah in 1975. That final album was not bad at all, but their time had come and gone.